As reported on the Shine Lawyers website in February 2014 (see here), following the release of an Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) preliminary aviation accident investigation report, the particular fixings used to join the lower wings to the fuselage of Tiger Moth aircraft (lateral tie rods) have been under scrutiny.
Following the accident, the ATSB requested all operators of the Tiger Moth in Australia to provide detailed information in relation to potential fatigue cracking.
As of last week, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) acting on the report and subsequent information took things a step further and suspended all aerobatic flight in those aircraft in Australia effective Friday 22 August 2014. In addition, the airworthiness directive issued by CASA (17/2014) requires removal and destruction of unacceptable lateral tie rods and the removal and destruction of lateral tie rods found to be produced by J&R Engineering. The lateral tie rods in the Tiger Moth which crashed in December 2013 were Australian manufactured by J&R Aerospace.
Operators of Tiger Moths in Australia may not perform aerobatic flight until the requirements of the airworthiness directive have been complied with.
The airworthiness directive notes that the accident in December 2013 highlighted the risk associated with fatigue cracking leading to failure of lateral tie rods. These are safety critical components and the ones which failed in the December incident were within their authorised useful service lives of 2000 flight hours but CASA noticed that cracking in such components can be strongly influenced by the kinds of aircraft utilisation and operational events performed. Aerobatics and turbulent conditions, for instance, generate elevated loads during flight.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: January 7, 2020.